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From fears to friends

Sarah Mervosh | Saturday, August 20, 2011

Congratulations, freshmen.

You’ve said goodbye to your high school friends, you’ve arranged your impossibly small dorm room and you’ve met and judged your roommate.

You’ve officially made it through those first awkward, stressful, challenging moments of college. Now take a second and breathe. There will be plenty more where those came from in the next four years, but hopefully by the end of this column you’ll feel a bit more prepared.

I can’t say goodbye to your parents for you, sit next to you in your first college class or hold your hand at your first dorm party.

But I can give you some perspective to take with you along the way. I had a lot of fears coming into college: breaking up with my high school boyfriend, losing touch with my high school friends, not liking Notre Dame, which had always been my dream school.

And to varying degrees, all of that happened. My high school boyfriend and I broke up a month into college. I was sad, but if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have experienced the awkwardness of a dining hall date, and I wouldn’t be dating my boyfriend now.

I went from talking to my high school friends once a day to every once in a while. But if I didn’t let go a little bit, I wouldn’t have formed friendships with the people that I know will be at my wedding, child’s birth and 70th birthday party.

Living with your friends in college makes for both pee-your-pants and I-want-to-kill you moments, but in the end, your friends be there for you through thick and thin.

Like those moments when you’re sad or scared or frustrated that Notre Dame isn’t exactly what you thought it would be. There will be a few times like that, but your new friends will sit on the futon with you through it all.

It is those moments that will help you appreciate and love Notre Dame, despite its dysfunctional idiosyncrasies and soon enough you will be tweeting about how you are #domesick. I know I am.

Since freshman year, many of my initial fears came true, and you know what? I’m so glad they did. So my best advice is to welcome all the change that’s going to happen instead of trying to fight it.

You’ll be surprised how it changes you for the better. It will be a little while before you’re able to see that, though, so in the mean time, let’s focus on the more practical items:

There’s no better way to stand out as a freshman than to wander around the dining hall aimlessly and enter lines from the wrong end. I can’t speak for North Dining Hall, but at South Dining Hall, the pasta line starts by the bananas, the vegetable line start away from the drinks and the apple/salad line starts from the Chinese food. Follow suit.

The dining hall is a great place to people watch. Observe, scout out the cuties and create nicknames for them among your friends. (Notre Dame is too small to use their real names when you’re gossiping about how you want to meet up with so-and-so this weekend after hours.)

When in doubt, play Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” or Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” at a party.

If you’re breaking parietals, a fire alarm is NOT an indication to leave the room. Unless you actually smell fire, and in that case, take your pick — ResLife or Satan. Could be an even match.

If the police come to a party, run, Forrest, run.

Introduce yourself. I met one of my best friends on campus because I sent him an awkward Facebook message about our astronomy homework. We laugh about it now, but who would I get relationship advice from in moments of panic if I hadn’t taken that first step?

Learn to love Taylor Swift.

Choose your classes based on the professor. A good professor makes all the difference.

Do not write a letter to The Observer detailing your freshman year hookups.

Do sign up for The Observer at activities night. It’s been the best part of my college experience so far.

When you walk outside and it’s -20 degrees, you don’t have a booger hanging out of your nose. That’s just the feeling of your nose hairs freezing.

Truly take in these next few years. They’ve been the best years of my life so far, and I am confident they will be for you as well. Enjoy.

Sarah Mervosh is a senior studying Arabic and Psychology with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. This column makes her seem more put together than she actually is and she should probably learn to follow her own great advice. She can be reached at smervosh@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.